The Grudge (2020) finale explained: how to end the curse?

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This article reveals the explained plot and the detailed events in Nicolas Pesce’s The Grudge, the movie released in 2020, revealing its meaning and storyline. We recommend you to read it only after watching the movie, and not before, in order to preserve the pleasure of the first vision.

The latest chapter of The Grudge saga was released in 2020, directed by Nicolas Pesce and produced by Sam Raimi. It is not a remake of the first chapter of 2004, but falls under the definition of reboot, which is a new story set in the same context as the other films. In 2020 the film was released in cinemas around the world and is now available in streaming.

The story told in the film is connected to the characters and the curse already present in the other films. Furthermore, the film has an ending that can leave some doubts open. In this article we will explain the plot, how it relates to the first film and what the ending consists of.

The plot and the explanation of the film

In the background of the film we see Fiona Landers, a character dating back to the first film in the series The Grudge (the one from 2004). Fiona leaves a house in Tokyo, talks to Yuki and asks her to substitute her, because she has to go home. This is the link between this film and the first The Grudge: Fiona was dealing with Emma Williams, an elderly lady who saw strange presences, and she wants to return home in America before the visions of the curse reach her. Unfortunately, the curse is already following her, as can be seen from the things she sees immediately after her phone call. Fiona arrives at the house on 44 Reyburn Drive, around which the entire plot of the film revolves.

It turns out quite early in the film that that house is cursed, and it is precisely the curse that Fiona brought from Japan. The detectives and the FBI have already dealt with several cases of strange murders that took place in that house. The first is exactly the one related to Fiona: as we see later in the film, after returning from Tokyo she drowns her little daughter, Melinda, in the tub, then she kills her husband and commits suicide. Melinda thus becomes the entity that will persecute all those who enter that house, until her death. She will be the child who will be in contact with the real estate agent who will then kill his pregnant wife. She will also be the child with whom the elderly lady living in the house afterwards will play. The husband of the elderly lady will involve an expert in assisted suicides, who will stay in that house for some time, witnessing the death of the man at the hands of the woman, leaving the house and going off the road after the curse had chased her in the car.

This is the linear sequence of deaths linked to that house. The car accident becomes the beginning of the part of the plot involving Detective Muldoon, new in town and dealing with her first case. During the investigation she hears that there were old cases related to that address, found in the woman’s diary, and from there she begins a journey in which she discovers everything that has happened in previous years. She also becomes a victim of the curse, from the moment she enters that house. She will also speak with the first detective who dealt with the crimes of Fiona Landers, who will reveal to her how the curse dates back to that episode in Japan that started the series. All of this will take us to the finale, where Detective Muldoon is committed to break the curse.

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The ending of the film

In the film’s finale, Detective Muldoon is convinced that by setting fire to the house the curse will be broken and her son Burke will be out of danger (until the curse is on, she could still harm him). She enters the house and pours gasoline everywhere, then sees her son in the house. She asks him the question that recurs throughout the film, “what do we do when we are scared?”, But seeing the baby hesitate, she realizes that he is not really her son, because he does not know the answer. Blindly trusting this knowledge, she sets the house on fire with her child inside. Once outside, we discover that her intuition was correct: the child had in fact been in the car the whole time.

After that scene, we see her and her son in the new apartment they were moving into. She hugs the boy wishing him the best for school, but the boy is behind her and is already leaving the house. The detective is therefore embracing the curse, which never ended and accompanied them to the new apartment. The final scene suggests that Muldoon dies while her son goes to school (although this is not seen in the film).

How to end the curse?

The events of the film and the way in which they relate to the first chapter of the series suggests that the curse cannot be broken: it is not linked to a particular place, nor to a particular person, it can spread like a virus, infecting other people and invading new homes. This is consistent with the director’s own vision of the first Japanese film, Takashi Shimizu, who confirms that he has never found any consistent way of justifying the interruption of the curse, which would therefore be so infinite.

What does this mean for The Grudge saga? That Detective Muldoon will likely die in that house, and the son Burke is now an orphan of both parents. The film leaves open a possible continuation of events that could involve Burke himself.